The Road Less Traveled : On Choosing the Right Path

How do I figure out what to do with my life? How do I choose a career path? How do I go about making a big decision-one that will forever change me?

I remember exactly where I was sitting-on a tan couch I’d bought off Craig’s list in my apartment in Atlanta. The Logic Games Bible, Essays that Will Get You Into Law School, and 10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests and various other books were scattered about the coffee table as I took my 2nd practice LSAT. I finished and barely exhaled while I checked each answer and scored my test. I scored higher than I imagined possible.

I assumed my high score and love for learning {I used to actually enjoy exam week in college} meant God wanted me to go to law school. But after I patted myself on the back a few times and sat down with a bowl of ice cream to celebrate, I felt unsettled.

The year before, I’d met Natalie and led her to Christ. Her faith had such a deep impact on my life that I applied to move to China with a missions organization. However, I did not get accepted-which spiraled me into confusion. I believed God led me to apply to China and wanted me to serve in missions after college. It felt like a slammed door in my face.

I sat there in my tiny apartment with my LSAT practice score that I’d circled and put 5 exclamation points after staring back at me. I formed some resemblance of a prayer, but I was scared of what God might tell me to do. “Seriously?! I already applied to go to China and was rejected, remember?” It was a pivotal moment in my life. Two paths diverged and I had a choice: law school or missions in China. Three weeks later, I packed up my LSAT books and started preparing for China.

I moved in China in August of 2008. Over the next two years, I watched movies & talked about boys with life-long friends as they ate chicken feet. I learned Mandarin and became an “unforgettable foreigner” in more than one situation. I held my breath as I scrubbed a pregnant woman’s back in a public bath house-and there finally felt accepted into the culture. But everything wasn’t perfect. If you read What Now? When Life Doesn’t Turn Out Like You Planned you know about the trials I experienced and how my missions team fell apart. But you also know how God redeemed the situation. He led me and a few friends to a small countryside town in rural China where many came to know Christ & miracles happened. 

What if I hadn’t gone to China? What if I insisted on going to law school, despite knowing God had other plans for me? How different my life would be if I attended law school and now practiced law. Michael and I wouldn’t have married. I would probably be too busy to write this blog. God sent me to China for a season, I believe, to break me of pride and know Him more.

Hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it? I can now see clearly why China was best for me. Not because it was in some way “holier” than law school or clearly what God wanted since it was missions. But because I knew myself. I looked down the road and knew I would be a real jerk if I was some “important” lawyer. And the harder I prayed, the more I  knew in my heart God had incredible plans and people for me on the other side of the globe. The hardest part of these decisions is most of the time they are unclear. At the exact moment I was feeling the tug towards China, another twenty-something was probably feeling the same pull towards law school. We serve a personal God who fashions plans for our lives based on our uniqueness.

In the words of Robert Frost:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

What decisions are you facing today? How did you decide your career path? What’s the last big decision you made?

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13 Responses to “The Road Less Traveled : On Choosing the Right Path”
  1. michael says:

    So thankful you chose China!!! Your courage and love challenges me to do the same.

  2. Love your blog, as always. The thoughts and reflections regarding the paths we choose is fascinating to me! But what God has been teaching me through my own journey is that God and His will are bigger than I can imagine. Although I definitely believe we have free will, I don’t believe my choices are big enough to derail God’s plans … His plans work despite me. So I don’t think if you would have gone to law school that you would have been a “jerk, non-blogger” (or not the woman God intended you to be) necessarily. Maybe…maybe not. But you would have had a whole different set of experiences, some painful and some joyful. Would you have met and married Michael? I don’t see why not! Who would have thought going to China would have made for a good courtship when he was in Germany? I guess what I am trying to say is that we have a God who is loving and in control. Our choices are not always good and bad … sometimes they are good, better, best. But God is with us no matter what and continue our sanctification process to make us the men and women he wants us to be whether we chose China or law school … med school or ministry! Ruthie – I love your heart for God. Thanks for sharing it with all of us!!!

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Leslie! Thanks for sharing your wisdom as always. I hadn’t really considered the angle you presented-very interesting. I’m not sure what I think, but I am confident that God’s plans aren’t derailed based on our sins or just bad choices. Amen, right?! Who knows…maybe I’ll take the opposite path you did and go to law school when I’m in my 30s:) Thanks for commenting and for sharing your wisdom with the group!

  3. Anna Kaye says:

    I definitely have some big decisions, aka two roads divereged coming up soon. So it will be interesting seeing what God has in store. And which road he wants me to travel.

  4. Thank you for your timely blog, again. And that is why i am farming, instead of making a living!

  5. leeleegirl4 says:

    This is wonderful. I absolutely love reading about your sureness of the faith that God will lead you in the right path.

  6. Love to read your thoughts, I can even picture you when you describe your journey! I’m so honored to be the “bad” friend that inspired you to go to China, you know how we always joke about how our lives would be so different if we didn’t know each other. God had the best plan for you, even at the darkest point of it, He is gracious and merciful! I cannot thank you more for what you have done, and I still remember clearly how you washed my feet before we went to that country side to share Jesus! An incredible journey starts with you choosing China instead of LSAT…Love you!

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      The “bad friend”-haha. It will always be YOUR FAULT! Remember when you were drinking coffee at Starbucks in the sunshine & I called you at 4am China time from the hospital—-crying—because I couldn’t understand the nurse?! :)

      God is always good. Always merciful. And always full of grace. Thank goodness He doesn’t wait on us to get it right!

  7. Regina Anderson says:

    How funny it is that you wrote about this at this particular time. I am a lawyer and I am at a point in my life where I am asking God what He wants me to do with my life. I dont ever recall asking Him what He wants -but in a few months I will finish my 13th year of Bible Study Fellowship and I know He didnt give me all that time at His feet for nothing. So thank you for sharing. It is encouraging.

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